January 12, 2017

a small list of good things...

+ One of my goals this month is to drink more water and to switch from coffee to tea. Overall, I do pretty well not drinking anything other than water at home during the day. I don't allow myself to buy soda because I know myself well enough to realize I'd be drinking it every single day. (Other things I don't let myself buy: sour cream and onion potato chips, Oreos, and white cheddar popcorn. True Story.) But I'm trying to increase my water intake because everywhere you turn there's someone telling me all the benefits of drinking more water. I decided to switch from coffee to tea because my one cup of morning coffee doesn't even perk me up (and I only drink coffee with creamer, thank you very much). I figured I would try caffeinated tea to cut back on my sugar intake, at least. I purchased some english breakfast tea from Aldi, which is actually pretty good without any sweetener, but I thought I'd ask all of you: What is your favorite caffeinated tea? I've never been a consistent tea drinker, so I am eager for recommendations.

+ We've had so much rain here lately! It's glorious. Well, as long as I'm not driving in it. Or carrying a toddler, my purse and three bags of groceries in it. Or contacting our apartment's management company to fix leaking windows because of it. But overall, rainy days make me all kinds of happy.

+ The Healthy Moms Podcast recently came out with a fantastic episode called Deep Nutrition and the Four Pillars of Health. You don't have to be super crunchy for this podcast to appeal to you, and this specific episode is perfect for anyone looking to make some changes during the year ahead. It's a little lengthy, but completely worth the listen.

+ I've recently reached the most magical place in life, my friends. I've been waking up fully rested every morning between 5 and 6AM. Some of this may have to do with Cora being a better sleeper these days (although she rarely sleeps the whole night without making a peep), but even on nights when I wake up a few times, I still wake up—dare I say it—naturally before 6AM. This has never happened consistently, even when I'd try to go to bed super early. Honestly, it feels like such a gift because all I want these days is to have a small portion of each morning by myself, in the quiet, reading or writing or (let's face it) checking my phone. Of course, there's only one catch...you have to be okay with going to bed before 9:00PM most nights. And you know what? At this point in life, it's totally worth it. Amen.

+ I recently purchased an adorable little wall hanging from my friend Morgan's Etsy shop: Little Lovelies. Her shop is pretty much the sweetest thing around, and you must stop by.

+ I'm currently working through a variety of different books, which always puts me in a happy place. I purchased Present Over Perfect to read on our iPad and have been having weekly FaceTime check-ins with a friend who is also reading it (this book totally speaks to my heart these days), I checked out Paris for One from the library (I'm not completely head over heels, but would you believe I've never read any Jojo Moyes until now?) and am starting to read Simplicity Parenting for the second time (I can't recommend this book enough). It feels good to always have something to pick up. This year I'm attempting to master the art of reading more than one book at a time...

— Further reading: more small lists of good things

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here.

January 4, 2017

Walmart Beauty Box: Winter 2016 (a review!)...

I feel like it is much more exciting to receive this box when I know I'll be photographing the items inside and sharing the contents with you here on the blog, so I think I'll go ahead and continue these posts as long as I'm getting these boxes! Plus, this is the only subscription box I receive, so it always feels like a tiny holiday in my mailbox when it arrives. Even when I'm not head-over-heels for the items inside, it still feels like a treat!

Here are the details for what was included in the winter version of this seasonal subscription box (I think there are still two versions—so you may have received something different!):

Curel Hydratherapy Moisturizer — I haven't tried this moisturizer, and I'm not sure I will go to the effort to use it right after showering (which is how you're supposed to use it). I don't have very dry skin overall, so I don't often use moisturizers aside from my facial moisturizer.

Neutrogena Hand Cream — I gave this to Jay, because I just don't think I'll use it. I already have a bunch of hand cream and/or lotion samples on hand, so although this one seems to work very well (I like that it's clear and unscented), I thought I'd pass it along to the husband for his travel bag.

TRESemme Volumizing Dry Shampoo — This was perfect timing, because I ran out of dry shampoo and then this arrived on my doorstep! (Or mailbox.) I've used this dry shampoo many times, and although it's not my favorite, it still works very well and I like the price point.

Burt's Bees Lotion — I've received a sample of this same lotion in a couple boxes of baby samples, and it smells just wonderful. I like to keep these in my diaper bag and in a drawer of the changing table, so I'm happy to have more of this lotion, for sure!

Dove Body Wash — I feel like there have been Dove samples in nearly every single box I've received, but I can't complain—it's truly my favorite body wash! I like using these samples because you actually get quite a few uses out of them. I'm eager to try this one. It smells heavenly.

A couple foil packets of shampoo/conditioner and few coupons were also inside the box this month.

Last month's box was a winner for me, but this month's lacked a little bit. I was a little disappointed because there were three items that were moisturizers (my least favorite sample to receive, because I don't use it often) and there were no full-size products included. I'll still continue my subscription because nearly everything I've received ends up being used at some point, and like I said before, they're just fun to look forward to getting in the mail.

If you want to sign up for your own subscription, you can visit the website here. Each box is only $5 and they ship once every season. And as always, I pay for each of these boxes myself and this in no way a sponsored post—but this is such a fun, inexpensive subscription box overall, and I totally recommend trying it out a few times yourself!

Did you get this month's box? I'm always curious about the different versions and what other people receive.

— Further reading: Walmart Beauty Box—Fall 2016

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here.

January 3, 2017

my one word...

It's been ages since I've taken part in this annual tradition, but this year seemed like the perfect time to begin again. I love the idea of choosing one word or phrase to carry with you throughout the year ahead, to provide some focus on things you hope to accomplish, explore or improve upon. In some ways, it feels a little superstitious or fluffy (I'm pretty sure if I asked my husband what his word is for the year ahead, he'd give me a blank stare and ask me suspiciously, "Is this some sort of internet thing?" To which I would reply, "Yes, yes it is. You know me well. Now pick a word or I will pick one that you want nothing to do with."). But when you know the year ahead is going to be filled with change and growth in some very specific ways, I rather like the idea of choosing a word to offer extra focus.

My word for the year ahead is nourish.

There was a different word that I rather like the sound of and I thought would be a perfect fit, but then  "nourish" popped into my head and ended up being the only one I could possibly use. Words make me happy, and I love when the sound of a word perfectly captures the meaning. I love when the definition can spill over into many different parts of my life. I love when the synonyms resonate with me just as well: nurture, foster, hold, sustain, cherish.

When I think of this word, a great deal of it has to do with the obvious nourishment of my body—being sure to provide myself (as well as my children and husband) with good food and other things to keep me (and them) healthy and strong. My focus this year will be on finding ways to incorporate foods into our diet that are healthy, homemade, whole. (All the while realizing that making a batch of my husband's favorite cookie bars are sometimes exactly what our bodies need.) I'm eager to focus on health in a way that has little to do with my physical appearance, thinking more about wellness and keeping my body strong and (wait for it...) nourished. This morning I ended up joining a new healthy-living course, created by one of my favorite bloggers, and I'm eager to begin. (Today is the last day to sign up, and if you want to use my affiliate link, here it is!)

But, of course, nourishment isn't just limited to the physical. A great deal of my focus is going to be on things that have nothing to do with physical health and wellness. I've been thinking about what I need to do to nourish myself spiritually (intentional daily prayer, reading and memorizing scripture, becoming well-versed in apologetics), to nourish the relationships most important to me (my husband, my children, my family, my closest friends), to nourish my own well-being (reading good books, finding time to write, making time to create).

I'm eager to take this word with me as I enter 2017, because it fits perfectly with my current ambitions. It keeps my world small. It sharpens my focus on the things that matter most. After all is said and done, success may not be obvious to those outside of my small circle—perhaps not even outside of my own self. But that may be just another aspect that appeals to me, to be completely honest.

I'll be sure to write a bit here during the year as I go along, but feel free to share your own word for the year within the comments. I love hearing about the words other people choose and why they choose them!